If you were Socrates, would you have escaped? Why or why not?
What would be the counter-argument? Why?
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I undoubtedly would have run away, as I know myself very well, and I'm not done living yet. All joking about my courage aside, running away would be completely justified give the injustice of the situation Socrates faced. Were I Socrates, I also would have been aware that what I was able to contribute to society educationally would be ultimately more valuable alive than the lesson or example of my death would be.
The counterargument would be that becoming a martyr for the cause of thought, philosophy and justice would have much longer lasting effects as a societal lesson, which is proven, no less, by the very existence of your question centuries after his hemlock cocktail was ingested. It can be considered, forever, his most important lesson.
The behavior of Socrates, and those who followed their philosophical foundations verbatim, transforming those whom they met, and themselves as well in the process, are people who view the etheral world much differently than less "abstract" people such as you and I.
Hence, if I lived in his shoes I know I may have opted to remain where I am to make the statement that the powers that be are unfair, non-thinking dimwits who will perhaps jeopardize any chance of civilization among the Greeks.
If I did escape, however, I would do it only for the sake of continuing my teachings, however, at this point Socrates was a marked man, and his chances for freedom were limited, if not non-existant.
For me, I would have run away. My reasoning would be first that I would rather live than die. But I guess for Socrates, a better reason would be that if he were still alive he would have a chance sometime in the future to continue with his teaching (after the authorities stopped being angry at him, perhaps).
The counter-argument would be two things. First, maybe he could make more of an impression on the people of Athens by allowing himself to die -- so he could do a better job of teaching them that way. Second, it is important to him to be true to who he is. Running away would violate this.
Socrates sacrifices his life defending and protecting ideas that he considered much more important than his life. If being Socrates means having the same ideas as Socrates was able to develop, and feel the same way about them as he did, then every one in place of Socrates would have behaved as Socrates did.
Most certainly I don't claim that I can understand or value the ideas of Socrates the way he did, and therefore I can't be sure that I would have sacrificed my life to defend those ideas. I can only say that it is better to give up your life protecting what you value, rather than live a worthless life.
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